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Archive for the ‘Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 28, 2022] “Weird Al” Yankovic

This was my ninth time seeing Weird Al.  I’m shooting for ten.  We’ll see if he can muster up one more tour (why did I skip the Strings Attached tour)?

I was pretty thrilled by the first Ill-Advised Vanity Tour.  It was great seeing so many songs that rarely got played (amusingly, I had seen some of those songs on their original tours back in the early 2000s, which is pretty crazy.

I was hoping that this tour would be a whole new set of obscure old songs.  I thought he might pull out “Buckingham Blues” for the Queen’s death or something really odd like “Slime Creatures from Outer Space” or holy cow, “Genius in France” would have blown my mind.

I see that he actually played a largely different set in NYC (which I considered going to, but decided against).   Including “I’ll Sue Ya” (not a favorite, but I haven’t heard it before) and “Velvet Elvis (talk about an obscurity!).  But he also did the two songs that I would LOVE to hear live….and it might have been worth the hassle of Carnegie Hall just to hear “Nature Trail to Hell” and “Albuquerque.”

Having laid out that complaint, we did get four songs I hadn’t heard live before including a wonderful “Don’t Download This Song” and the sheer surprise of “Buy Me a Condo.”  And this new, improved, extended version of “Craigslist” was outstanding.

I will never complain about hearing “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota”–and the crowd was really into it.

Of course, any “Weird Al” show is a good time.  Al gave amusing introductions to all of the songs and even did an amusing “encore” bt where he stood at the side of the stage checking his phone and then arguing with the band about whether they were going to do an encore or not.

The encore was worth the price of admission.  He did a (straight and fantastic) cover of Elton John’s “Saturday’s Alright for Fighting.”  And the closing medley of songs in very different styles was outstanding.  I especially enjoyed that someone in the audience was able to do the Yoda chant dance. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 28, 2022] Emo Philips

I saw Emo Philips open for Al four years ago.  I rather enjoyed his set.  As I said:

Emo’s comedy is really dark but–delivered in his bizarre manner that goes somehow beyond deadpan–it makes his jokes really hilarious

I wasn’t sure if I needed to see his set again–I wasn’t sure how different it would be.  And so, coupled with a Phillies game, it being a Friday night and it taking place in the center of Philadelphia, I rather assumed I’d be late and miss some or all of his set.

I arrived at the show at a little after 8 and by the time I got to my seat I guess I missed about half of his set.

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 23, 2022] Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets [rescheduled from January 25, 2021]

Back in 2019 I saw Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets play old, obscure and unpopular Pink Floyd songs.  And it was awesome.

When he first came up with the idea:

Mason says he wished to revisit songs that were staples of early Pink Floyd shows from 1969–1972, as well as other songs that were never performed live by Pink Floyd during this era. Mason said the group was not a tribute band, but that they wanted to “capture the spirit” of the era.  And they were going to play some of “Atom Heart Mother,” my personal favorite.

The band would consist of (and still does) Dom Beken on keys, Lee Harris and Gary Kemp on guitars and vocals, and long time Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt (man, he has played with EVERYBODY) on bass and vocals.

I enjoyed the Met Philly’s experience.  But this time the show was going to be at the Miller Theater, part of the Kimmel Music Center complex.  Although I was quite far back and I said

I didn’t get a close seat because I didn’t really think it would be worthwhile.  But if he tours this show again (maybe with one or two different songs?) I would see them again, but I’d be much closer.

But this time, I decided to get even further away (sort of).  I grabbed a seat in the top tier (4th balcony), but in the front row.  I had a GREAT view!  Until I realized that the metal safety bar was EXACTLY at my eye line when I sat back.  So I had to lean up or down to see the whole stage. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 14, 2022] Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Back in November, I was surprised and delighted to see that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova had announced a small tour (like six shows) celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of Once.

S. and I loved the movie and the music and she insisted we get tickets.  So I grabbed them in a pre sale.  Not as close as we would have liked, but not bad at all (there’s really no bad seats in the Merriam).

In the meantime, shows were cancelled and rescheduled, but this show fell in the safe zone and didn’t get moved at all.

We arrived just barely on time–I always forget what a pain it is to get to the Kimmel Center.  But then it took a while for the show to start.  Start time was 7, but they didn’t get on stage until 7:30 (he told us why later).

It was wonderful. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: January 25, 2021] Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets [moved to September 23, 2022]

indexI saw the Saucerful of Secrets show back in 2019 and loved it.  I had okay seats, so I wanted to get closer if they ever did another one (which I never imaged they would).

And yet here they were…  timing their show right during the COVID resurgence.

This was supposed to be a very busy week of shows.  All but one has been postponed.  However, it’s a cold and blustery January night and The Kimmel Center is a hassle to get to at the best of times, so I can certainly wait until the Spring when I won’t mind a multi-block walk.

 

 

 

 

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[ATTENDED: September 6, 2019] Joanna Newsom

This was scheduled to be a busy concert weekend for me–three days, three shows.

I was glad the first one was a seated, relaxed show of Joanna Newsom playing her harp and piano.  The traffic into Philly was light, until I got into City Center.  I had planned to park on the street (you can find it sometimes), but I wound up driving on a street under construction behind a bus and I watched as the time ticked away.  Finally I grabbed the nearest parking garage and sucked up the $22 fee and then hustled over the theater and managed to get into my seat just as the lights dimmed.  Holy cow.

I had never seen Newsom before, and I suspect that I was quite lucky to see her on this limited run tour because I understand it’s her first solo tour in about 15 years–she’s usually accompanied by… someone else, I guess.  It was also her first tour at all in four years.  She said she was very nervous.  And she did make a few mistakes.  But she was always gracious and self-deprecating about them.  And considering she played about 200,000 notes that night, missing one or two isn’t the end of the world.

She came out to much applause.  I gather that her fan base is pretty intense (the kind who laugh and squeal at any comment the musician makes).  However, unlike other similar fans, these were relatively restrained (it was a rather formal setting after all).  But it was nice to be enveloped in so much mutual love.

The strange thing for me is that I didn’t really know any of her songs before this show.  I knew what she sounded like and I’m sure I’ve heard a song or two somewhere, but I was a Newsom novice.  I just knew it would be an excellent evening.  And so it was.

She came out on stage to thunderous applause.  She had on a beautiful floor-length dress, which–when someone asked her–she said was by California designers Rodarte.  And that they had made four dresses, one for each of her albums. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 30, 2018] Darlingside

Sarah and I saw Darlingside just three months ago at SOPAC.  I was surprised that they were coming back to the area just a couple months later (even if by the area I mean two cities which are 90 miles apart).  Even my son, who doesn’t always seem to pay attention to what we do said “Didn’t you just see them?”

The reason I was so intrigued to see them again so soon was three-fold.

  1. Their new album wasn’t out yet when we saw them in December.  Now it was and I assumed they’d play more from it.
  2. SOPAC was a quiet, sit down, well-behaved place and I was curious to see if they performed differently in a bar/club.
  3. They are amazing, so why not?

Really the big question for me was the second one.  What would they be like in a noisy club.  Well, they still sounded amazing and just like Darlingside.  They didn’t really change their game that I noticed.  And in fact, the crowd changed for them.  While there was some chatter, the crowd was there to hear them, and we knew what we’d be getting, so we were quiet when we should be (with some exceptions).

The biggest difference was between songs, when people went pretty wild, and the guys responded appropriately–not getting wild themselves, but ramping up their own outgoingness.

The guys have a stage patter in place.  After a couple of songs, one of them will step up to the mic (they only ever use one mic which is magical because it picks up every breath and utterance) and addresses everyone with a story.

After playing two new songs (including using their Septavox, on “Eschaton” which adds a small element of electronics to their otherwise acoustic set).  In SOPAC they talked about this gadget, here they did not.  It was their first time to address us.

Cellist/guitarist Harris came up and was just so full of smiles and goodwill that it really set the mood for the night.  (He raised him arms and shouted Yes!).  He told us that last night they tried “Philadelphia Vanilla Ice Cream” for the first time. Which he was not even aware of this being a thing before then [nor was I].  He tried to describe it and the crowd responded appropriately (with someone shouting “Phanilla.”

And then they he told us that “Go Back” is based on Back to the Future II, which I did know.

They played some flawless songs from Birds Say (they do actually have quite a number of releases even if they focus on the two newest ones).  The harmonies on “White Horses” (and , honestly every song) are just breathtaking.

David, who plays bass and an underrated kick drum spoke about opening act Twain.  All of the bands whom Twain opens for seem to really like his music or at least him.  So he raved about Twain for a bit and then joked about how much fun it is to substitute the word “twain” for other words in sentences.  I can’t help but wonder if we are missing something.  There was also some talk about toilet paper, with David being shocked that not everyone folds it into a perfect square.

The crowd enjoyed the new songs and showed great appreciation for the old songs.  I was amazed at how great all of the songs sounded, but especially the really soaring ones like “My Gal, My Guy.”  And when the smaller more fun songs like “Harrison Ford” began, there was thunderous applause.

It was also cool when Harris sat at cello for “The Ancestor” but you could still hear his vocal contributions even some three feet from the mic.

Guitarist/banjoist Don told us that he had signed up to donate blood marrow and that we could too (I could not, as the requirements are surprisingly strict).  That wasn’t the usual fun banter, but it was perfectly in line with them as decent human beings.  And I say that unironically.  The four of them seem like the nicest guys in the world.  (And when we met them it all seemed genuine).

The band doesn’t “do a lot on stage.”  They switch positions a bunch depending on who needs to be doing what.  I always enjoy seeing Auyon on the mandolin like on “Whipoorwill.” But mostly they huddle around that amazing microphone and sing like four-part-harmonious angels.  I’m amazed that the bass doesn’t clatter against things–they must all be very well used to playing in small spaces.

Auyon is a crowd favorite.  So when he got up to speak there was thunderous applause and he acknowledged it by saying it was appreciated but over the top.  He often introduces the band and he did so tonight by discussing what was on their rider.

They’ve had a rider for a long time, bu only recently are venues starting to look at them.  He says its difficult to make one because what you want when you are sitting on your couch at home making up a rider is not necessarily what you want the night of a show.

He says they try not to be wasteful.  Don overheard the guys at Union Transfer discussing the requests, saying that tit’s all healthy stuff and very very specific.  The phrases” lack of imagination and daring” were thrown around as was the word “restrained” but not in a positive way.

 

He told us that Harris does push ups to stay in shape.  But he is worried that he apparently massive chest will ruin his writs making him unable to play, so he doesn’t really do them, after all.

When he introduced Don, and the crowd roared, Don pumped his arms trying to get the crowd louder which made everyone on stage laugh.  Auyon deadpanned that the first time at a Darlingside show that anyone has done that motion–we don’t even pick things up.  Don confesses, “It felt really bad too.  I’m never going to do it again.”

Auyon told us that Don orders half beers.  He’ll ask to split a beer, which is something no bartender respects.

When he introduced himself, the crowd went over the top with applause which led him to say that he believed that we were just messing with him now.  He said, “I usually have the other half of the beer because I only want half, too.”

There is really nothing like hearing them singing the gorgeous “Good For You.”

I was thrilled when they played their new song “The Best of the Best of Times” which Harris introduced by saying they were writing it in England during Brexit and they thought things would be better at home.  And then look what happened.  We are a long way from the best of the best of times, indeed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for an encore.  I mean they’d played pretty much everything I wanted to hear.  The set list wasn’t too differet from at SOPAC.  It may have even been exactly the same songs, just in a different order.  I don’t know what will happen when they do another new album and start having to remove songs from the set list, I need my 7 songs from Birds Say!

The first encore was “Orion” a new song (someone shouted for their cover of 1979 which I REALLY wanted to hear, too, but they didn’t play it.

They ended with their sorta rocker (and suitable show ender) “Blow the House Down” which has a raging (for them) guitar solo and some wild violin.

They hung out after the show to meet people, but it was time for us to leave, so we didn’t say hi.  We’d chatted with them just a few months ago.

Amazingly, they will be back in the Philly area two more times before the end of the summer.  May 18 at the Kimmel Center opening for  Brandi Carlisle and then July 29 at XPN Festival.

Setlist
Singularity [EX]
Eschaton [EX]
Go Back [Birds]
White Horses [Birds]
My Gal, My Guy [Birds]
Hold Your Head Up High [EX]
Extralife [EX]
The Ancestor [Birds]
Harrison Ford [Birds]
Whippoorwill [ep]
Futures [EX]
Good For You [Birds]
Best of the Best Times [EX]
The God of Loss [Birds]

Encore:
Orion [EX]
Blow the House Down [Pilot]

What didn’t they play?
From Birds Say: Clay & Cast Iron; Birds Say; Water Rose; Do You Ever Live; She’s All Around; Volcano Sky
From Extra Life: Old Friend; Lindisfarne; The Rabbit and the Pointed Gun; Indian Orchard Road; Rita Hayworth

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[ATTENDED: December 28, 2017] The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses

legend

Last September, we all went to see Symphonic Zelda–the Symphony of the Goddesses.  Out of the blue a few months back, C. said he’d really like to see it again.  I assumed it would be a long time before it came around.  But I checked the site (it’s very rare that C. wants to go and do something) and they were playing right after Christmas.  This time at the gorgeous Verizon Hall.

The website announced that the show would be different.

Brought to Life as never before, witness as 30 years of video game history unfolds, complete with a stirring cinematic video presentation, synced with the games’ sensational, thematic and action-packed soundtracks played live by a full orchestra and choir.  In addition to Breath of the Wild music, the new program also features an all new movement from Skyward Sword, and the return of a classic that just might make some wishes come true!

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 2, 2017] King Crimson

I saw King Crimson back in July.  And I had great seats.  It seems excessive to see them again just a few months later.  However, given that at any second, Robert Fripp could decide they were never going to tour again, it seemed like it behooved me to attend once more. Besides, the shows have been amazing.

This time I got very good seats on the left side of the audience.  This meant I could watch Fripp play guitar (he was blocked from my other seats).  I also had a  very clear view of bassist Tony Levin, which was awesome.  And I was close to drummer Pat Mastelotto who is so much fun to watch.

The lineup was pretty much the same as last time except that last time drummer Bill Rieflin was back on keyboards.  This time Rieflin was on sabbatical again, replaced on keys by Chris Gibson.

The lineup: Tony Levin (bass, Stick, more); Mel Collins (saxes, flutes); Jakko Jakszyk (guitar, vocals),  Chris Gibson (keyboards and effects): Three drummers: Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto and Jeremy Stacey (also keyboards).  And of course, Robert Fripp (guitar). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 13, 2017] Tanya Tagaq performs Nanook of the North

No use burying the lead: I just witnessed something singular.  Something unique and unforgettable.  Tanya Tagaq is a magical performer and I consider myself lucky to have seen her (even if I wasn’t always looking at her). And to have heard her incredible band live.

Tagaq is an Upik performer who incorporates throat singing into her music.  And when she performs, her entire body is possessed by the music. She becomes animalistic, both low and growling as well as high and soaring.

Nanook of the North is considered the first documentary film.  Filmed in 1920 by Robert J. Flaherty, it depicts Nanook, a “happy Eskimo,” and his family as they go about their lives.   For many people it was their first and only exposure to Native culture.  This film has been praised for its documentary techniques, but ridiculed for its patronizing attitude and for fudging reality.

I learned last night that part of the reason some of it was fudged was because his original film was destroyed in a fire and he returned to get more footage–often recreating what happened the first time.  [Some Wikipedia details shed some light on his good intentions and controversies–see bottom of the post for a few details].

I first watched Nanook of the North about 20 years ago in a college film class.  It was fine–less boring than I imagined, with some interesting moments, but not exactly gripping after 80 years of filmmaking.  But with Tagaq’s new soundtrack, the film took on an amazing and powerful component which added intensity, drama and tension to this film. (more…)

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